Repertoires, Cycles and Frames: Accounts of Vigilantism and Lynching in the usa

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Repertoires, Cycles and Frames: Accounts of Vigilantism and Lynching in the USA
There is probably not much that can be added to expand on what Charles Tilly and his colleagues have offered on Repertoires and Cycles of political opportunity. In the words of Verta Taylor:

“They locate the roots of social protest in broad social change processes that destabilize existing power relations and increase the leverage of challenging groups. In contrast to theorists who have viewed social movements as a collective response to deprivation, to the availability of resources, or to the contradictions of late capitalist society, these writers are political-process theorists who view external structural and cultural processes as key to understanding the strategies and cycles of social protest.” (Taylor 1996)

So why would anyone accuse Tilly and his colleagues of ignoring the state or culture (Goodwin and Jasper 1999)? Perhaps, these critics are not reading the same Tilly et al. that his students are reading (Hogan 2004). Perhaps this is another example of the cultural turn of the Eighties and Nineties (Swidler1986), criticizing the dominant perspective, not for what it offers, but for what is missing. Taylor (1996), for example, comments on the missing voice of women. Where is Kim Voss (1993) when we need her? But Taylor ultimately recognizes that repertoires are part of political culture and a decidedly contested terrain. Perhaps the cultural critics do not share our definition of political and cultural. Here I can offer assistance in starting a conversation on what we are arguing about by distinguishing the “social” (collective action) in social movements from the political (“contention”) and cultural (“repertoire”). The key is to be found in borrowing not just from Max Weber (1993), who offers definitions for everything, but also from Goffman (1974) and the army of sociologists who appropriated the “frame” as a social construction embedded in a culture (or “framework,” or “repertoire”) of frames (Benford and Snow 2000; Gamson 1992; Snow, Owens, and Tan 2014; Steinberg 1991; 1999).

Here, at a more micro level we can connect the social construction of collective action campaigns, including tactics and strategies, with the culturally available but socially constructed repertoires. The decidedly social, “situational” constraints on adopting appropriate tactics include both situated identity and strategy, as well as political opportunities, power (repression/toleration/facilitation) and, of course, repertoire. Here we may speak of “resonance” as an aspect of key/frame limiting the extent to which tactics, strategy, power and repertoire converge within tolerable limits of structural constraint to allow for improvisation (Snow et al. 1986). We might say that key/frame, strategy, tactic, and repertoire need to be in tune, or the performers need to retune if they are ever to return to a story line that will accommodate their identities and performances, hopefully without embarrassment (Goffman 1959). Bringing a knife to a gunfight, for example, might be embarrassing, unless of course one is able to disarm her adversary.

It is imperative that we recognize that frames and keys, identities and definitions of the situation are socially constructed and subject to negotiation, disputation, and change (Snow et. al. 2014). Social movement WUNC displays include all of these elements (Tilly and Wood 2013). When the demonstrators are beaten or killed by authorities (or adversaries), it is clear that the definition of self and situation (including frames and keys) is being challenged by an adversary whose legitimacy and coercive capacity might very well become an issue in the next round of contention. Reading the riot act is a good example of explicitly defining situated identities and situations. The interaction between Malcolm X and the Harlem police, after one of his lieutenants was arrested, is a classic literary and cinematic representation of a negotiation that is largely nonverbal. The tone and the character of the interaction change as the officers realize that an army of black men are standing at attention, forming a wall between the precinct office and the residents of Harlem.1

Although it is somewhat unusual for authorities to explicitly state definitional claims, this is much more likely in a contentious moment of madness (Swidler 1986; Tarrow 1993; Zilborg 1972). In the slide show presentation of his prison simulation, Philip Zimbardo, playing warden, claims that he lost control of the experiment. He reminded the students, who were presenting themselves as prisoners and guards in a simulated prison riot, “This is not a prison. This is an experiment, and the experiment is over.”2 Perhaps the warden lost control, but the students clearly recognized the voice of the professor and agreed to resume their roles as students in an experiment. One of the great ironies of this performance is that the experimenter was able to control the subjects after announcing that the experiment was over.

Zimbardo, as warden, was losing control of the prison and needed to redefine the situation. The experimenter had created the prison, so, in theory, he had the authority to end the prison simulation whenever he decided to do so. Zimbardo had lost control as warden but not as experimenter. Formally, he surrendered that power when he declared that the experiment was over, but, substantively, this was not the case. Anyone who has seen the slide show will recognize that the experiment was not over, despite what Zimbardo said. Only the simulation was over. What followed was a de-briefing that was essential for the subjects to reclaim their student identities without embarrassment about their behavior as guards or prisoners.

Tilly, even in his early writings, recognized that collective action was more like improvisational jazz than opera, even in the old (Fifteenth Century Western European) days. Although Tilly (1978) sometimes appears as what we would now call a Rational Choice theorist and sometimes appears as a structural Marxist, he was thoroughly Weberian and social constructionist. He invariably offered interactive contingency models, even when he claimed to be modeling dialectics or attempted to estimate structural equation models (Hogan 2005). The methodological/statistical critiques of Tilly’s work, including the unpublished critique by Paul Siegel, a demographer by trade (see Siegel 1965), is infamous among Tilly students who tried to learn structural equation models with Duncan’s (1975) book and Siegel’s lectures. Obviously, Tilly’s reputation as a structural determinist was not earned in the coefficients championship at the competing centers of Michigan sociology. Perhaps when Jeff Paige and Bill Mason taught graduate methods they were better able to dispel this myth. Those of us who came before just learned that Tilly and his students sometimes faced serious specification problems, as Paige and Mason could certainly appreciate, but it is still hard to imagine why anyone, including Chuck, would think that Tilly was a structural determinist.3

Tilly (1978, p. 56) offered a simple model that predicts collective action based on interests, as these predict organization, mobilization, repression/facilitation, and opportunity/threat. In these terms, the model (Tilly 1978, p. 140) predicts that mobilized, powerful interests will respond to opportunities/threats to achieve/defend their interests. Although Tilly later characterized this model as static structural reductionism (Hogan 2004, p. 273), it still works fairly well in predicting when an organized interest will decide to act, as opposed to preparing its troops to fight another day. This resource mobilization model can be operationalized to predict election results, for example, and can also accommodate change, relying primarily on Tilly’s subsequent research, over the past three decades (Hogan 2011).

The resource mobilization model predicts decisions for a particular organization at a particular time and place with regard to specific issues that provide opportunities for collective action. We used this model in my Social Movements course to predict how Planned Parenthood would react to Indiana legislation threatening the survival of their West Lafayette clinic. In cases like these, the model is very instructive, but it does not help us much in explaining why the Right to Life Movement has adopted a new set of tactics in State by State campaigns for legislation imposing more restrictions on abortion clinics in the expressed interest of “protecting women’s safety” (Think Progress 2013).

Of course, Tilly (2008) recognized this limitation and argued that we need to look for innovation at the edge of established repertoires. He also developed the argument that repertoires follow a history of contention that begins with sponsored or patronized local action and moves toward autonomous national action, as nations move on or off the path toward powerful central state making and democratization (Tilly 1977; 1986; 2007). Tarrow (1994) suggests that the change of repertoire occurs within cycles of contention, associated with political opportunities. Within these cycles we see a tendency for challengers to move from violence to disruption toward convention, or sectarianism, in which some opt for convention while others pursue violence. Tarrow (1994) also acknowledges the importance of framing and the importance of what McAdam (1982) called cognitive liberation, as well as moments of madness (Tarrow 1993).

Tilly (2008, p. 210) embraces all these contributions in his model of regimes and opportunity structures (at the macro level) and contention and repertoires (at the micro level) intersecting as constraints on strategy. On the micro level, we have actors using strategy (or tactics) embedded within repertoires and using frames articulating resonance between strategy and repertoires in calls to action or mobilization (Snow et al 1986). In fact, frames also work across constituencies, as part of a dialogue or interaction ritual (Steinberg 1991; 1999). Here we find shifting scenes and problems maintaining fronts and audience segregation. This is where Benford and Snow (2000), Goffman (1959; 1974), Gamson (1992), and Steinberg (1991; 1999) offer a more micro, interactionist approach that tends to blur the distinction between what is said and what is done, focusing instead on who is presenting self to whom. Tilly and Wood (2013) embrace this in talking about social movements as public displays of Worthy, United, Numerous, and Committed partisans—WUNC displays.

In some cases, however, the presentation of self is qualitatively different. The lynch mob is Armed, Determined and Dangerous (ADD), as is the Al Qaeda cell or, for that matter, the Black Panthers. Considering violence as a tactic, it does not matter, in some sense, whether the challenger actually uses violence or not (Gamson 1975). That is how terrorism works. Suicide bombings and marches are tactics rather than strategies. As such, they are embedded in campaigns and associated with repertoires, old and new, but campaigns are not necessarily limited to tactics from a particular repertoire, particularly in the case of marches. Suicide bombs are direct action, patronized and local: characteristic of the old repertoire of non-democratic or weak states. Marches could be used as part of a terrorist strategy or an electoral appeal. That is what Tarrow (1994) means by “modular.” In fact, KKK marches and lynching represent two tactics that were used strategically in terrorist campaigns of racist/nativist Americans (in the USA) between 1890 and 1930. Both lynching and Klan marches had cultural roots in the Border States of the nineteenth century, and they diffused into Georgia and Indiana, where they were combined in campaigns of racial and ethnic terrorism, which were revived on a more limited basis during the Civil Rights Movement, when bombing churches and lynching Northern whites and Southern blacks were part of the strategic resistance to Civil Rights in the South.4

Unless all of these Tilly inspired social movement scholars are mistaken, however, marching through town in sheets is qualitatively different from castrating, burning, then hanging and finally mutilating black men accused of raping white women. Both are racial terrorism, but the former is a variant on the march (not unlike the March on Washington), a staple of the modern social movement, designed as a WUNC display. The latter is more like vigilantism or the Spanish Inquisition—local, patronized, direct action, designed to carry out traditional punishment where traditional authorities are lacking or derelict in their duties. This is part of the old repertoire and is barbaric.

Tilly (2003, pp. 14-15) associates lynching and public executions with “violent rituals,” that “reflect and reinforce existing systems of inequality” (2003, p. 87). These are likely to flourish in weak (“low-capacity”), undemocratic regimes (2003, p. 92), including the antebellum USA. As Tilly (2003, p. 99) explains, “From the Civil War to the 1920s, the United States moved from our low-capacity democratic quadrant toward notably higher capacity.”

Thus, at the macro level, focusing on regimes and opportunity structures, we face a problem in our efforts to sort contention into repertoires within which strategies and frames are culturally constrained. In the United States of North America (USA) we have Abolitionism (1733-1863), a social movement that predates the modern era, and lynching (1890-1930), a tactic that seems to reach its peak in the modern era. Aside from the problem of establishing when the old repertoire disappears or the new one emerges (Calhoun 1993), it is also clear that there is a relationship between Abolitionism (viewed as one phase of the struggle for racial justice) and lynching, as well as slave revolts and various of acts of rebellion. To make matters worse, there is a rather complex relation between actions and the names that we use to describe those actions. Naming is an important part of framing (Ferree et al. 2002), which is, of course, embedded in the dialogical contestation surrounding slavery and subsequent forms of racial oppression in the exploitation of black labor on the North American continent (Ellington 1995). Of course, Tilly recognizes this. In fact, Tilly (2002, p. 122) asserts, “Whatever else it requires, the explanation of political contention demands that analysts take mere speech acts and their nonverbal equivalents seriously.”

Here we need to recognize that marches, demonstrations, riots, lynching, and vigilantism are tactics—not strategies. Racial/ethnic/nationalist terrorism is a strategy. A campaign of terrorism is used strategically to intimidate blacks, Catholics, immigrants and others who might challenge the claims of the Democrats, the Know Nothing Party, or the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters. Marches down Main Street in full Klan regalia, burning crosses, and even lynching can be made to resonate with the frame of true American patriots defending the American Dream. Since multiple tactics can be used in the same strategy it is important that we distinguish between vigilantism and lynching, barbarous old tactics, which conscience constituents (Zald 1987, p. 321) explicitly defend as necessary due to extenuating circumstances, and marches, which are new tactics defended as WUNC displays.

Strategically, all three are part of the same campaign of terrorism, but the tactics are different. It is hard to frame lynching and vigilantism as the work of reasonable men in a well policed modern urban industrial setting, where legal alternatives to violence are clearly available. Perhaps a neighborhood watch campaign, or private security, in cooperation with local police, would better resonate with the social (collective action), cultural (repertoire), and political (contention) context. Of course, we must concede that there are regions within the city where conditions are more barbaric if not primitive, where gangs effectively monopolize the concentrated means of coercion and citizens cooperate with police at their peril. Under these conditions, riots and vigilantism might better resonate with barbaric conditions. One might argue that rural militia districts in Appalachia or in the more remote Western regions might also provide circumstances that resonate with the “politics of expedience” frame that justified vigilantism on the Western frontier and lynching in the Border States.

So the boundaries of time and space are less clearly delineated than a structural determinist or historicist might like. Repertoires, strategies, and tactics that might work in one region at one time might not work in the same region at a later or earlier date. Even in simultaneous campaigns or, indeed, even within the same campaign there may be tactics that diverge sharply in resonance with conditions that might at first seem quite similar. Whatever shall we do?

Rather than embracing the postmodern condition of de-centered, unpredictable, nonlinear and recursive historical or literary narratives (Goodwin and Jasper 1999; Melucci and Lyyra 1998), I suggest that we impose a little discipline, even structure, on our analysis, clearly articulating a theory of repertoire change with its embedded cycles and performances that yield comprehensible path dependent if not determined outcomes, in word and deed. Although McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly (2001) were moving away from structures, toward processes and mechanisms, I propose that we bring structure back as a foundation for analyzing regimes and political opportunities as these impinge upon strategy and tactics, repertoires and contention.

Specifically, the capacity and democratic nature of regimes is predicated on a hegemonic bourgeoisie. We can begin with the insights of Marx (1974 [1852]) in his analysis of the failed republic in 1848 France and extend this line of argument with Burawoy’s (1985) concept of hegemonic factory regimes. This allows us to view hegemony as a variable that rises and falls over time and place and to consider the bourgeoisie on a path toward or away from hegemony as the basis for movement toward or away from democracy and state capacity.5 On that foundation we can trace the shift in repertoire, applying Tilly (1986) to the USA. By connecting Burawoy (1985) with Tilly (1986), we maintain the focus on relationships, rather than simply counting and classifying events across time and place. Hegemony is a relationship between a dominant and a subordinate class—exploiters in relations with exploited. The same relationship (e.g. tenancy) might be hegemonic in one place and coercive in another. Similarly, a hegemonic tenancy system might deteriorate into coercion or oppression as market constraints are no longer sufficient to tie labor to the land, or because property rights are no longer secure, or because mortgages become worthless in the depth of a global depression or an inflationary spiral of interest rates and currency futures.

This allows us to contrast regional and even local political economies. Then we can trace the cycles of economic crisis and political opportunity, following Hogan (2005) and adding a consideration of critical elections in the USA: 1800, 1824, 1840, 1860, 1876, 1896, and 1932. Within that context we can consider strategies and tactics used by challengers and how these are named and framed by the partisan press, by authorities, and by the challengers themselves. Here we can consider the rise and fall of parties: notably, Federalist, Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, Whig, Know Nothing, Greenback, Agrarian Socialist, Socialist Labor, and Populist parties, in tandem with the rise and fall of classes (and hegemony), economic and political crises, and the names used to identify rising and falling challengers (especially the Republicans and the Democrats) and their relations to each other and to other challengers, as well as their success in gaining authority by winning elections (or otherwise) and in monopolizing coercive violence.

Clearly, the use of coercion and the ability to monopolize coercion are intimately related and dependent upon hegemony (among other things that Tilly [2007, pp. 137-139] has specified). We should, however, acknowledge the extent to which the state (and the States) are not simply targets or tools but are quasi-independent and constrained by relations with other states (or States) as well as by the mysterious effects of culture, which Goodwin and Jasper (1999) warn us not to ignore. Here we find Tilly’s relational work on Durable Inequality (1998) to be most useful. We sociologists can limit our attention to actions that are subjectively meaningful and thereby take others into account (Weber 1993). To the extent that others are living and breathing contemporaries (or extant organizational positions/relations) who (that) are part of extant social networks (meaning that we have routine access to each other), we can call these “social” actions/relationships. To the extent that they are persons or positions associated with actions that have been passed down from ancestors or diffused from other regions (outside our social networks) we can consider these “cultural” (as opposed to social).

Obviously, both social and cultural relations overlap and change over time and place. We might even imagine inventing ancestors or mythical lands (e.g., heaven or Atlantis [Anderson 1983]), but the effects of these imaginary cultural constructions are decidedly social in their causes and effects (Gottdiener 1985). It is only when they are defined as real that they are real in their consequences (Thomas and Thomas 1928). These and other more tangible cultural and social effects might be political when they entail power (the ability to achieve goals despite resistance [Weber 1993], which frequently entails relations with authorities and the exercise of influence). They also frequently affect economic actions, associated with collective efforts to produce and distribute the necessities of life. This rather lengthy dissertation on Weberian concepts and definitions (Weber 1993) is offered only to demystify calls to bring the state back in and to bring culture back in, as if either had ever left the polity.

None of these distinctions, which might be elaborated to yield a set of Parsonian boxes, should suggest that we cannot eliminate all categorical relations that are not based on either exploitation or opportunity hoarding as largely irrelevant in the study of social change (Tilly 1998). Here we argue (along with Tilly and Wood 2013) that collective action that is political (contention) is the source of social change. Rights (for example) appear in the Bill of Rights as a set of promises that were designed to reduce opposition to the U.S. Constitution by States (Confederated former colonies) that were reluctant to sacrifice their autonomy to a federal government. Of course, people (who later became both Federalists and Anti-Federalists) fought and died for these rights. They were not freely given in the Magna Charta or anywhere else. Also, like the national debt and the national currency, their value is sustained not by faith in the divine but by the coercive power of the state that claims a monopoly on coercion in the control of the national population and territory. In other words, rights come from “interest-driven bargaining” (Tilly 2002, p. 137). Of course, culture matters, but hegemony is both more important and more easily operationalized in the behavior, rather than the beliefs and values, of polity members.6

Thus we can ignore all social relations that do not qualify as elements in enduring inequality, with the assurance that opportunity hoarding and exploitation are ubiquitous in the real world (Tilly 1998) and provide the most readily observed and analyzed basis for contention (including voice, if not exit and loyalty [Hirschman 1970]). In grounding contention in interests associated with relations of durable inequality, we are connecting the Tilly of structural determinism (1978) with the Tilly of relations (1998) and performances (2008). In the process it should become apparent that there is more continuity than change in three decades of contentious Tilly.

Lest we suffer intellectual nosebleed at the heights of abstraction, I shall ground this theoretical effort in an empirical analysis of vigilantism and lynching in the USA, 1830-1930, focusing on how these behaviors and the ways in which we speak of them change over time and place. In this regard, we shall borrow generously from Walton’s (2001) method of doing local history, paying attention to both what happened and what people say about what happened. This is particularly important in the analysis of vigilantism and lynching, where the newspaper editor is both a partisan and a source and where the voice of the victim is virtually always missing, at best represented by a sympathetic witness, since “dead men tell no tales.”
Repertoires and Transitions in the USA

Let us set the stage by repeating a few definitions that were offered above to clarify how state and culture are incorporated in the political process model of contention and repertoire change. The state is an organization that nominally dominates a polity—a population of members (perhaps citizens or residents) and the social networks that connect them to each other and to others (perhaps aliens or challengers or simply nonresidents) who are at least nominally considered to be under the control of the state. The boundaries of this control can be defined by populations and territories, but these are permeable boundaries that are periodically subject to change and routinely challenged. Whether Crimea and Crimeans are under the nominal control of the Russian or the Ukrainian state is currently (May 2014) disputed. Given the disputed boundaries of states (in both population and territory) it is not clear that legitimacy or hegemony is ever achieved, so it is not clear that “monopoly on legitimate use of force” is a very useful definition. Clearly, however, states make these claims, but so do rebels and other non-state organizations.

We might instead consider states as strong or weak, centralized or decentralized, facilitative, tolerant, or repressive, as Tilly (1978) suggests. For present purposes, it is critical that we recognize states as claiming authority over a population and territory that we might consider a polity, including members with routine access to authorities and nonmembers or challengers who might be defined as residents or aliens who lack the status (or, more accurately, the political standing or resource) of membership. In centralized, legal bureaucratic states there are a range of certified residential and nonresidential statuses (or political designations) that can be claimed and policed through the use of cards or other documents (visas or passports). The ability of states to police their boundaries in this way is one dimension of power or authority. The ability to repress rival claims, particularly from other states or rebels who claim the right to govern, is a second dimension of power. The ability to cooperate with and participate in extensive international organizations, particularly as charter members of nation-state alliances (e.g., the United Nations or UN) is a third dimension of power. As evident in the comparison of Russia and Ukraine, there is an empirical but not necessarily a significant correlation between these three dimensions of state power. In this case, despite the best efforts of the “international community” of nation-states (and the UN) the power of Russia and the weakness of Ukraine are apparent, regardless of how important we might consider political culture or relations with other states to be.

Political culture, for our purposes, merely refers to those aspects of political life that are cultural as opposed to social. Following Snow et al. (2014, p. 35) we include products, practices, and systems within the realm of culture and society. We impose the permeable boundary to separate that which is transmitted: either passed down from generation to generation or diffused from one region to another, versus that which is acted out, in the Blumerian sense of “joint action” (Blumer 1969, pp. 70-72). We recognize frames as cultural (Goffman 1974) and definitions of the situation as social (Goffman 1959). We also recognize the process through which claims or claimants (social and political) are granted as new advantages or accepted as members (Gamson 1975). We might even extend this recognition to encompass the processes of revitalizing or fabricating (which refer to social and political processes), as well as the resulting frames (which are cultural and political products); when these processes result in relatively enduring products we might even use the word canonize (Snow et al, 2014) to describe subsequent efforts to institutionalize these cultural products (which by our definition must be transmitted in some form).

If we speak in these terms we might then conclude that what Tilly (1986) and Tarrow (1994) have called “repertoires” are paradigms for challenging authorities or polity members, composed of tactics that challengers can frame as appropriate and potentially effective in campaigns to gain new advantages or to gain the privileges of membership. These tactics or repertoires can be framed for different purposes to different audiences in order to recruit, mobilize, influence, threaten or even terrorize constituents, antagonists, or authorities. Like frames or definitions of the situation, these repertoires entail identities and interests, associated with claims. The claim that we are Worthy, United, Numerous, and Committed (the WUNC display) is characteristic of the modern social movement repertoire. We might consider the claim that we are Armed Determined and Dangerous (ADD) to be the claim of the traditional (or old) repertoire, where the challengers ask not but take what they want, or they demand (not ask) that authorities do what they are supposed to do (e.g., distribute grain or release the Black Muslim minister).

With a little imagination, one can see how Figure 1 applies Tilly’s (1986, p. 395) model of repertoires to the USA. Here the North American Civil War is the watershed (as opposed to the French revolution), and once again it takes some time (until after WWII) before the new repertoire becomes institutionalized (or canonized). Furthermore, as we shall see, the extent to which the USA has achieved a strong state that effectively controls a democratic polity is variable. Like Switzerland, the USA followed a somewhat different path as a federal republic where States (or cantons in Switzerland) claimed democratic autonomy long before the central control of the federal government was institutionalized, or canonized (Tilly 1990; 2004, p. 174; 2007). As late as the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties there were State’s Rights claims denying the authority of the federal government and requiring federal troops to recapitulate the Reconstruction experience. Civil Rights, an important component of democracy for Tilly (2007, p. 118), was institutionalized (or canonized) in the late twentieth century and is still contested terrain today.

Thus it is critical that we recognize the provisional nature of repertoire changes that are associated with the centralization of strong state control and the incorporation of virtually all residents into the polity as citizens or at least residents/visitors to whom the state extends constitutional and civil rights and freedoms, even if they might have expired visas or lack documented identities. The extent to which immigrant and colonized populations enjoy these rights varies over time and place, largely as a function of state capacity, capital accumulation and, importantly, bourgeois hegemony. In the USA, particularly in Western railroad, cattle, and mining industries and in Southern agriculture, bourgeois hegemony was problematic. In some cases, it was the challenge of labor discipline, in others it was the challenge of establishing honor among thieves (Hogan 1990; 2011, p. 134). In either case, establishing bourgeois democracy was a challenge in and of itself. Resistance to local or national threats to local actors who claimed to be dominant if not hegemonic (be they miners, mine owners, railroads, ranchers, farmers or plantation owners) was more or less protracted, particularly between 1830 and 1930.
Cycles and Opportunities, 1830-1930

Simply stated, between 1830 and 1930 in the USA, economic and political crises created political opportunities for challengers, including Abolitionists, slave revolts, labor uprisings, racial pogroms, vigilantism, lynching, consumer cooperatives and third party political movements, not to mention blacks and women, Jacksonian, Whig, Democratic and Republican, as well as Greenback, Populist, Socialist and Progressive parties.

State making and capital accumulation, before and particularly after the Civil War, was a process rife with conflicts and contradictions including not only crises of overproduction, circa 1837, 1858, 1878, 1898 and 1929, but also contradictory economic and political battles associated with the inevitable clash of Southern plantation slavery and entrepreneurial industrial and agricultural capitalist development in the Northeast and West.

The incredible capitalist accumulation after the defeat of Populism, circa 1900, leading up to the Great Depression of the 1930s, is apparent in Figure 2, which plots the value of private production from 1830 until 1940.

Table 1

Population, Private Production Value (in millions) and Product Value Per-capita (in thousands) for the U.S., 1800-1940



Private Product































































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